By A. G. Moore 11/12/2012
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Governor Christie of New Jersey toured his stricken state with President Barack Obama. It seemed at that moment that New Jersey had taken the brunt of the storm and had suffered Sandy’s most savage blows. However, as the days–and weeks–passed and recovery from the storm continued, focus of Sandy’s violence shifted from New Jersey to New York.
Jersey, under the firm and steadying leadership of Christie, settled into a steady upward trajectory in its recovery efforts. New York, on the other hand, was adrift with no captain at the helm. Utility companies failed to perform. Gas lines grew. And New York’s Governor Cuomo did nothing. He barked a couple of times, but he essentially declared he had no power to affect the pace of recovery.
Two days ago, Cuomo finally took action. He instituted odd/even days for gas purchases. The lines disappeared, the “gas shortage” evaporated. What took him so long?
There’s always a reason why something can’t be done. A leader finds a way. Leadership is a quality sorely lacking in Andrew Cuomo. He does not have the stuff of his father, who would not have tolerated the utilities’ ineptitude. Mario Cuomo would have called in the National Guard, he would have declared Martial law–I don’t know what he would have done but he certainly would have done something.
The younger Cuomo lacks the substance of his father. He lacks the mettle of leaders like Christie and Russell Honore´–the frank-speaking general who finally set New Orleans on course after the post-Katrina debacle.
There was no such leadership in New York when Hurricane Sandy strutted her stuff. Maybe, if the storm had never come, Andrew Cuomo might have gone through his term as governor with the reputation of being an effective bureaucrat. But the storm did come and Cuomo was tested. If he ever had national ambitions, ever had it in his head to one day be president, he’d better put that idea to rest. Because he failed abysmally in his moment, in the one instant when he could have displayed leadership.
Tonight, in the Rockaways, in Lindenhurst, in Belle Harbor people pull their coats about them. They lock their doors and peer into dark streets. They’re searching, searching for a leader, for someone to take control.
Like those residents of the Rockaways and similarly stricken communities I also count the days and the hours that pass without central organization of the relief effort. We who live in New York are watching, and waiting for…